Prepared for the European Symposium on "Inscription sociale de la science", organized by the Comission Française pour l'Unesco, Paris, 5-6 November, 1998. Countries that, in the past, have made significant investments in the traditional modes of scientific and technological production, trying to develop isolated, or enclave scientific communities or, more seriously, ambitious projects of technological self-sufficiency, may find themselves now in a difficult position. They may have large, unfinished projects claimed by well-articulated and influential groups, and a frustrated academic community complaining about dwindling resources and opportunities. They risk to keep spending money and resources to maintain these projects alive and these communities satisfied, without being able to achieve either. They run also the opposite risk, which is to destroy whatever research competence they may have developed in the past, in the name of globalization, competitiveness and the market logic. Their challenge is to convert these institutional and intellectual assets into something useful and adjusted to the modern times, without having to start again from scratch.